Among the flowering plants now nearing the height of their beauty in the vicinity of Paradise, are three which, in addition to their graceful forms and attractive colored blooms, possess medical value of recognized potentcy.
Of these the most valuable for such purposes is the giant hellebore, or veratum vitride. This member of the lily-of-the-valley family occurs abundantly on the hillsides, its dense clumps of large, strongly-veined, creased leaves being easily distinguishable among less prominent plants. The drooping panicles of greenish-white flowers borne on a single tall stem four or five feet high add strikingly to the color scheme of the fields.
From the leaves is distilled a compound used as a heart depressant; in cases of convulsions also, and for certain other purposes. An insecticide too, is prepared from hellebore.
The valerian's white blossom, now seen so plentifully, waving gracefully on its stem, several feet in height, has also been found to posses curative characteristics, when crushed and formed into a medical compound. Alive and growing, the blossom is very fragrant, but the compound's foul odor will almost "blow open a drug store door," as someone aptly phrased it. Perhaps the valerian takes this method of retaliating upon those who would interfere with its desire to grow unmolested, preferring to serve by adding its peculiar touch of beauty to the landscape, rather than to be manufactured into a nerve sedative. Possibly too, the odor produces a pyschological effect in the mind of the patient more powerful than the quieting influence on his nerves.
The third of the medical plants is the arnica. From this growth a household liniment is made for external application to sore muscles and bruises such as those of wearied climbers returning from the hike to Rainier's summit. Several species of arnica are now in bloom, their yellow blossoms rising conspicuously above the heather, the gentians and the blue of the arctic lupine. One variety has rather large heads or groups of flowers, while another's blossom occurs in solitary fashion on a tall stem.
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